It was announced today by Skydance Animation that the studio has hired ousted Walt Disney Animation Studios/Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter.
Lasseter was previously ousted by Disney following an investigation as a result of sexual harassment claims. The former CCO was placed on a sabbatical in November 2017 when allegations first surfaced. This led to his subsequent dismissal from Disney his role at several months later.
This begs the question in this era of Times Up and #MeToo: why are studios willing to look over sexual misconduct claims when it comes to their hiring practices? Take yesterday for example. A Vulture survey revealed that there are comedy clubs and bookers willing to book Louis CK knowing what he did. Zanies Chicago owner Bert Haas was one of those going on the record–no doubt losing my business going forward as well as that of others who would rather not support businesses that welcome sexual harassers and other predators. Another stand-up venue n the Chicago area has lost my support for the same reason.
Lasseter’s exile seems to have been very brief to say the least. He doesn’t seem to have suffered any consequences for his actions other than a seemingly brief time out.
I don’t deny Lasseter’s past work at Disney. Under his helm, Disney/Pixar has put out some truly incredible animated films. I just feel that this hiring comes a bit too quickly after being dismissed by Disney following repeated sexual misconduct claims.
In a letter, Skydance Media CEO David Ellison addressed the hiring of John Lasseter according to Variety.
“While we would never minimize anyone’s subjective views on behavior, we are confident after many substantive conversations with John, and as the investigation has affirmed, that his mistakes have been recognized,” Ellison wrote. “We are certain that John has learned valuable lessons and is ready to prove his capabilities as a leader and a colleague. And he has given his assurance that he will comport himself in a wholly professional manner that is the expectation of every Skydance colleague and partner.”
The news report alerts us to a town hall meeting for staff to express their concerns. I’m sorry but shouldn’t such a meeting have taken place earlier? If I found out that a known sexual harasser would be joining a company where I worked, I would speak up immediately.
But would he have been welcome back at Disney? The answer appears to be a negative. According to Deadline:
One well-placed source told Deadline there was a gathering sense that employees didn’t really want Lasseter to return. Some even threatened to quit, according to another person familiar with the matter.
Even though Lasseter regrets and apologized for his prior actions, the big question that now remains to be seen is this: will he repeat these same actions again? Will there be any Skydance employees walk out as a result? Time will certainly tell. There’s already appeared to be fallout from the announcement.
— Kim Masters (@kimmasters) January 9, 2019
As far as Times Up:
— TIME'S UP (@TIMESUPNOW) January 9, 2019